Staff Reporter

Event held to mark 10th year of initiation of the Childline project

CHENNAI: On Friday afternoon, children quizzed government officials on the act related to banning of child labour. "Who is a child? Someone below 14, according to the new law, or someone below 18, as the previous one said?"

The event was held to mark the 10th year since the initiation of the Childline project, the free 24-hour helpline by and for children in distress. The helpline, which is supported by the Government of India and can be connected to by dialling 1098, has been set up by and for children in 72 cities and towns across the country.

Several children from Tamil Nadu, who have used the Childline facility and received support from its partner non-governmental organisations, attended the event.

Practical issues

Practical issues surrounding the use of the Childline came up. "Calling Childline from numbers other than a BSNL landline is not free," pointed out a participant. Missed calls from mobile numbers are usually returned, said a member of the panel.

Officials promised immediate action on complaints such as buses not stopping at certain places.

The children urged the Government to provide them with compulsory schooling and their parents with employment opportunities. They made presentations about the problems they faced, often as child labourers and possible solutions.

Childline's intervention has been sought for issues ranging from domestic abuse and health crises to the working of the juvenile justice system. It was initiated in Mumbai and then made a national project.

It currently covers 22 States.

The two-day `State Children's Participation Meet' here brought together 60 children from the six cities where the Childline service is functional in the state, namely Chennai, Tirunelveli, Tiruchi, Madurai, Salem and Coimbatore.